Notes and Documents
IVAN D. ERTEL*
AT 9:56 P.M., CDT, ON JULY 20o, 1969, ASTRONAUT NEIL A. ARM-
strong fulfilled an age-old dream of mankind when he stepped off
the pod at the base of the lunar vehicle and onto the surface of the moon.
With the words, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap
for mankind," Armstrong had hundreds of millions of television
spectators with him as he settled the argument as to whether the
United States or the Soviet Union would be the first to land men
on the moon. This much-discussed phase of the space race was ended.
At the same time Armstrong completed the first half of a chal-
lenge hurled at the Congress of the United States on May 25, 1961,
by President John F. Kennedy when he said, "... I believe that this
nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade
is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to
the earth."' The second half of that challenge was accomplished at
11:49 A.M., CDT, July 24, 1969, when the Apollo spacecraft completed
its trip from the vicinity of the moon and touched down in the Pacific
This fabulous flight to the moon was the culmination of a myriad
of activities which had taken place over a period of little more than
ten years, or almost since the inception of the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA).
The Apollo Program was officially announced at a NASA-Industry
Program Plans Conference in Washington, D.C., July 28-29, 196o.
George M. Low, manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program at the
time of the lunar landing, was NASA's chief of manned space flight
at that time. In describing the progam plans as then visualized, he
stated that circumlunar flight and earth orbit missions would be car-
*Mr. Ivan D. Ertel, assistant historian, Manned Spacecraft Center, is the author of
Gemini Program and coauthor of The Apollo Spacecraft: A Chronology. All photos which
accompany this article are used courtesy of NASA.
'U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Documents
on International Aspects of the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, 1954-1962, 88th
Cong., Ist Sess., 202, 2og.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 73, July 1969 - April, 1970. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117147/. Accessed April 29, 2016.